Anyone had a 'certified male' Ginkgo produce fruit?

slimwhitman(5b Kansas City)October 12, 2009

Anyone had a "certified male" Ginkgo produce fruit?

I used to specify Ginkgo a lot. It seems that it is billed as the next saving grace for urban streetscapes and difficult sites. But after watching them grow, I am less impressed. Sure, I see the occasional large and grand Ginkgo in a yard or park, but most of them used in streetscape scenarios often disappoint. They are slow to grow and often spindly. If they get ANY mower/weedwacker damage then that will slow them down even more.

The biggest disappointment is seeing 20% or so of the "certified male" trees begin producing fruit after 6 or so years. No one wants to smell that vomit odor when window shopping on that main street retail sidewalk. Then the shop owner is pushing the City or landlord to remove the tree. All this has pushed me to stop using this tree most of the time.

I read an article that a Virginia study showed that male Ginkgos can morph into females. That is completely false. What happens is the grafted clone dies on the seeding rootstock and the rootstock sends up a shoot. If the tree farm is not carefully watching this, then nobody knows the "certified male" is no longer alive and they are selling plain ol Ginkgo. It happens a lot! I was in a farm field with a reputable grower and he showed me a ton of his trees that were not true cultivars because of this. He has tagged the male clones but will still sell the seedling sprouted trees as non clones at a lower price. Most growers are not so careful.

Then you have to worry about whether or not the tree retailer or installer is being honest. Many will tell you that they are selling/planting a "certified male" (like Princeton Sentry), but you wonÂt know for several years and they will be long gone. The non-cultivar Ginkgo is cheaper to buy than the male clone, so some will buy the cheaper plant and sell it to you at the higher priceÂ..thinking you will never know the differenceÂat least not for a long time.

I was curious if you have had similar problems? Or seen female Ginkgos on streets in your town?

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Hey, Slim,
I grew up in the capital city of my state where one of the main parks had ginkgoes. You are 100% correct, the females STINK. As a teenager I rode my bike through the park, and one day decided to sidetrack and find the dead body. I found the trees. Three out of four were female.
We are talking the 1960's, here.
As a landscape designer I was fascinated with ginkgo trees because of their longevity and fossilized proof of existance millions of years ago. I planted a seedling in my yard in the late 70's and was lucky - must have been male - I drive by every two or three years and it still is there!
Over many years I have used many 'Autumn Gold' from Monrovia nursery and to this day have never seen one revert or grow from beneath the graft.
This is NOT a promotion of that nursery, just my experience.
My only problem with ginkgo has been damage from being overwatered in fescue lawns, especially in clay soils. I have never seen a pest or disease on a ginkgo.
hortster

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 9:39PM
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slimwhitman(5b Kansas City)

Hortster - So are you saying that you have gone back to visit all the 'Autumn Gold' that you installed during fruiting season? It can take 10 years before they fruit. Just curious.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 11:28PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

Grafted?
Not on their own roots?
What are they grafted to, and why?

I'm looking to get a couple of Ginkos soon.

Rain2Fall

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 9:18AM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Slim, of course I haven't kept track of ALL of them, but have used enough in neighborhoods that I frequent that I can feel confident none of the trees I know about are female. I have kept an eye on them because of my interest in this particular genus. I am referring to trees planted mostlly in the 80's, so there has been plenty of time for them to bloom female.
Rain2fall, cuttings are grafted onto the roots of seedling ginkgoes to assure that they are males with certain growth characteristics (richer fall color, fastigiate shape, etc.). Sometimes they sprout below the graft when the cutting doesn't "take" and develop the from the seedling root. If it happens to be female, well...15 or 20 years later it becomes obvious and the time to develop has been wasted.
hortster

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 11:12AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Rain2Fall,

Male ginkgo (note, 2 g's) scions are grafted onto seedling rootstock to produce male trees. Male trees are generally preferred because of the bad smelling fruit produced by the females. Determining the sex of seedlings is not practical, so the seedlings are used as rootstock for the male cultivars (or female cultivars, in some cases).

Ginkgos can be propagated by cuttings (produces a cultivar tree on its own roots), but this is usually not as economical and probably has little, if any, advantage.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 11:23AM
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slimwhitman(5b Kansas City)

We had 79 Ginkgos planted in 1988 on a project. Trees were direct shipped from Halka Nursury, a very reputable tree grower. It took up to 5 years, but we now have 13 of them setting fruit every year. That means 16% of them are producing that foul odor for a month of the year. Every fall we have crews stopping by almost daily to clean up under them to keep complaints down. This is just one experience of many where we have gotten females when we were sold a male clone.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 12:45PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

Brandon, I spelled it the Japanese way. No second "G" ;-)

It seems with a 16-20% "failure" rate, that starting male Ginkos from cuttings would be wise. It looks like nurseries are grafting female scions onto seedling stock, or else using female seedling stock? One fat lawsuit for misrepresentation and damages would fix that.

Do what they do in Japan: Harvest those nuts, roast them, and sell them. Create a new gourmet market for Ginko nuts. Tell everybody that Ginko means Gold-box, Bank, and Ginko biloba in Japan. Turn a disaster into a profit. Maybe ....

All that being said, I wouldn't mind starting a Ginko from seed. You could send a few my way for SASBE, if you don't mind.

Rain2Fall

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 2:04PM
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ryan_tree(7aVA)

I wouldn't mind any either, but I dont think anyone was offering.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 2:51PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

Yabbut, every now and then I get lucky. ;-)

Rain2Fall

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 3:18PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

If you ask me next year, I might just send you some. I didn't collect any this year.

Failure also occurs with rooted cuttings. Usually the failure rate from cuttings is much higher than that of grafted trees.

I'm not sure what you meant about the "female seedling stock". When seedlings are used for rootstock, there is approximately an equal chance of them being male or female. The rootstock does not determine the sex of the tree (except in the case of graft failure, as mentioned above). The scions are (or are supposed to be) taken from mature trees with known characteristics (known sex especially).

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 4:34PM
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ryan_tree(7aVA)

I've got some cuttings still sitting down in my fridge. I dont have any clue as to how to root them as I havent heard too much about rooting these.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 5:14PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

Did the 16% males happen because the tops died and the female rootstock took over? Or did that happen because the nurseries grafted female scions by mistake?

Somebody isn't being careful. A 16% failure rate is too high. If selling "guaranteed males" is so important, nurseries should use male rootstock and male scions.

Rain2Fall

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 7:44AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"Did the 16% males happen because the tops died and the female rootstock took over? Or did that happen because the nurseries grafted female scions by mistake?"

It's likely to be as Hortster said, "Sometimes they sprout below the graft when the cutting doesn't take and develop the from the seedling root." Or, an untrained nursery worker removed the scion instead of a rootstock sprout. The nursery could also have had some female cultivars or even seedling trees that got mixed up some way before they were sold.

"If selling "guaranteed males" is so important, nurseries should use male rootstock and male scions."

No. As stated above, the rootstock does not determine the sex of a grafted tree. Testing for ginkgo rootstock sex is not even close to being practical. If such an extreme method were required to produce male ginkgos, grafting would not be used to propagate nursery stock of this species.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 8:17AM
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pineresin

"As stated above, the rootstock does not determine the sex of a grafted tree"

True. But it does determine the sex of any rootstock sprouts that might take over from the scion! If the rootstock is also known male, then the tree will be male even if the rootstock does take over. A bit of extra assurance for those who are desperate to avoid female trees.

Having said that, I rather like the idea of seedling rootstocks taking over from grafts. It adds to genetic diversity in the species, and that's a good thing. It also adds to the food supply for wildlife, and that's a good thing too.

Resin

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 9:02AM
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pineresin

Of course, a really enterprising Ginkgo grower will sell seedlings, "guaranteed sex-free".

Then if anyone complains about fruit 20 years later, the grower can just say, "ah, but they were sex-free when you bought them . . . they were too young for it then".

;-)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 9:06AM
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lucky_p

It's been a while since I looked, and don't have his book handy here, but I believe Dirr recounted seeing a male tree that had pushed out a female branch, producing fruit, high up in the canopy, on at least one occasion.
I've seen the same thing happen with other dioeicious species, like persimmon. There's a male persimmon planted near a heavy-fruiting female, just up the street from my office - but every once in a while, I'll see a branch in it with a few small fruits.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 9:36AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"True. But it does determine the sex of any rootstock sprouts that might take over from the scion! If the rootstock is also known male, then the tree will be male even if the rootstock does take over."

If you read a little further up, we already talked about that too.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 10:22AM
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l_james(mo5)

If your looking to use the ginkos to produce nuts, there're some superior cultivors available.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 9:41PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

Brandon -- I stand by my opinion that if nurseries sell "guaranteed male" cultivars, then they should use both male rootstock and male scions. That way, if the scion fails or the nursery worker prunes the wrong one, the plant will still be male.

To do otherwise is either misrepresentation or laziness. Maybe both.

Rain2Fall
A GINKO lover

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 8:55AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Rain2fall,

Since you suggest this practice, can you share with us what practical method you propose for nurseries to obtain the male rootstock for all their male ginkgo grafts?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 9:27AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

P.S.
Rain2fall, can you also explain how you believe nurseries will be able to convince buyers to pay enough extra for their totally male trees (which may revert to just a plain species male tree instead of the cultivar they are paying for, if the graft fails) to cover the cost of your proposal?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 10:17AM
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slimwhitman(5b Kansas City)

brandon7 - You are cracking me up. Obviously, Rain2fall thinks they can tell the difference between a male or female Ginkgo seed or seedling by looking for genitalia or something. There is no feasible way to tell the difference between male and female ginkgos. Clearly, Rain2fall does not understand this.

Enough talk about people looking for seeds or male vs female seedlingsÂ.back to the topic. Please share your experiences with whether or not you have seen many "male clone" ginkgos produce seed (because they really were not a male clone!)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 11:35AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

LOL

As for the formerly/supposedly male trees producing seeds...I have never seen this first hand, but I'm sure it happens.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 1:42PM
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noki

Could there be some grafted Ginkgo with two leaders, one the male graft and one sent up from the rootstock that ends up female? WOuld this be considered two trees? Conjoined twins? Hermaphodite tree? There has to be some out there.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 7:56PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It's possible, but often, when a grafted tree has a rootstock sprout that is allowed to grow, the graft fails.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 9:43PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

How to get male rootstock: Propagate it from known male roots.

A nursery that sells "certified male" trees that subsequently have a 16% change of being female is misleading the customers. In the case above, where a city bought hundreds of them, the cost to the city of that 16% failure rate can be staggering. There's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

The nursery should advertise those trees as 84% chance of being male. And offer a selection of "guaranteed male" trees that consist of male scions granted to rootstock propagated from known male roots. At a higher price.

As for parthenogensis or hermaphroditism in Ginkos -- well, God works in wonderous ways. :-)

Rain2Fall

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 9:57PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"How to get male rootstock: Propagate it from known male roots."

Pure genius!

So, you don't really have a clue, huh?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 11:12PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

OK, I take that back. Sorry. I will try to restate...

Rain2Fall, you really seem not to understand the whole situation. I've tried to explain to you that there are solid reasons that this is not practical or even desirable (if you consider the whole picture). Before you make the assumption that all the professionals don't know what they are doing or are just being lazy, you may want to find out a little more about what you are talking about.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 11:24PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

I like you, Brandon. Even when you are annoying. I do hope the "trees" forum is not reserved only for professional nurserymen who know it all.

It was just a question.

My thesis is this -- nurseries should not sell "male" ginkos unless they have a very high probability of being male. Less than that is misleading advertising, breach of warranty, breach of fitness for a particular purpose, breach of contract, and probably also a tort. Like I said, it's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Now go back to looking for your genitalia.

Rain2Fall

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 4:01AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Rain,

Be careful if you decide to sue all the nurseries. The judge might get really annoyed by such a frivolous (not to mention utterly absurd) lawsuit.

Oh, and BTW, I wasn't the one that didn't know where to look. (-;

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 12:46PM
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rain2fall(8/Oregon)

You're a republican, aren't you?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 1:39PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Hey Slimwhitman,

Take a look at this document that talks about monoecious ginkgos and some ginkgos seemingly changing sex over time. Looks like there may be a lot more such info available by googling 'ginkgo monoecious'. I am going to look through some of these results when I get more time. Let me know if you see something interesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growth, Survival and Sex Expression in Ginkgo

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 1:47PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

ROFLMBO!!!!!!! Wow, Rain, you just completely struck out major big time! Write me if you want to talk about those awful conservatives, but let's stick to Ginkgo sex here.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 1:58PM
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mmccoy3636

I find your discussion fascinating. I have two mature Ginkgos, one male, one female growing next to my patio. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to rake up and remove the seeds each year. This year, my teenage girls and I have harvested a few hundred of the seedlings that have popped up from the seed piles. We have them in little peat-moss pots, and the girls have an interest in cultivating these with hopeful plans to raise a little college money! Unsure how practical this would be... nor have any clue how to ship seedlings, or small trees, but we're willing to try different ideas. I may try this grafting routine you've mentioned... So, anyone interested in some seedlings, give me a shout!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 7:46AM
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dnarex

I have a mature ginkgo (it was a large B&B purchased from a reliable nursery and planted 15 years ago)and last year, to my surprise, it produced one fruit. Nothing this year. It could be it is female and just isn't getting pollinated. I have one other ginkgo about 30 feet away. That one is much younger and may not be producing much pollen yet. There are no other ginkgoes in the neighborhood that I know of. I found the link posted by brandon7 interesting. It would be kind of neat if I had one of the rare monoecious "male" ginkgoes.
Could it be that the tree really isn't mature? It is at least 35 feet tall and 9-10 inches in diameter. I have never noticed any flowers. Are they conspicuous? The linked article mentioned 45 year old trees that had still not produced flowers. Well, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 5:11PM
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slimwhitman(5b Kansas City)

dnarex - Do you know what cultivar the Ginkgo is supposed to be? Even a good garden center can carry a male ginkgo. If you bought a ginkgo that was not a nmaed cultivar you have a 50/50 chance of getting a male. If it was a named cultivar, they still might have gotten a mis-tagged or poorly grown tree that was not true-to-name.

I bet your seeing the beginning of a long life "enjoying" the fruit this tree produces over the years. I don't know where you are, but I bet there are a few fruit up there that you have not seen yet. I notice them most just after the leaves fall off.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 7:04PM
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